Chickens eat all kinds of leafy vegetables. From lettuce and cabbage to various types of grass, if you own chickens you know by now that they love snacking on the green stuff.
However, there is one leafy vegetable that is renowned for its nutrition and is commonly used in salads: arugula. Can chickens eat arugula?
Yes, chickens can eat arugula and it is quite good for them. Arugula is superior to many other leafy vegetables thanks to its abundance of vitamins and minerals all of which can help chickens thrive.
Although this peppery cousin to the mustard plant is pretty divisive around the dinner table, there is little doubt that many chickens will eat it up.
However, as with all such supplemental food items you’ll want to give it to your flock as part of a balanced diet.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about feeding arugula to your chickens.
Nutritional Profile of Arugula
Arugula is commonly classified as a “superfood” among other leafy vegetables, and for once the moniker is definitely deserved. Arugula packs a ton of nutrition into a small package, both vitamins, and minerals.
Arugula contains a phenomenal amount of vitamin K, folate, vitamin C, vitamin A equivalent, and beta-carotene, and it still contains a respectable amount of vitamins B2, B6, and vitamin E.
It is no exaggeration to say that arugula is pretty much a complete multivitamin for people and chickens alike!
But the good news doesn’t stop there as the mineral profile of arugula is quite impressive as well.
It is abundant in calcium, manganese, magnesium, iron, and potassium, and it still contains a good amount of phosphorus, zinc, and copper.
Like many leafy vegetables arugula is mostly water, typically 91% by mass, and contains a little bit of fiber.
Health Benefits of Arugula for Chickens
Arugula is a nutritional supercharger for your birds.
Vitamin K is important for proper blood clotting and bone health.
Folate helps to prevent birth defects and anemia, while vitamin C strengthens the immune system.
Arugula’s high levels of vitamin A-equivalent and beta-carotene are essential for good vision, immune system support, and proper growth.
Vitamin B2 is crucial for energy production, while vitamin B6 helps to maintain proper nerve function.
The minerals in arugula are also important for chickens:
- Calcium is critical for strong bones and eggshells, while iron helps prevent anemia.
- Manganese is necessary for proper metabolism, and magnesium aids in calcium absorption.
- Potassium is important for regulating fluid balance, and phosphorus aids in the growth and repair of cells and tissues.
As you can see, arugula is a wonderful (and natural) way to boost the health of your chickens.
It is so good, in fact, that many owners report regular supplementation of their chicken’s diet, particularly of layers, with arugula leads to an increased rate of egg production and superior egg health.
That is quite the feat for a common, leafy vegetable that you might regularly enjoy in a salad yourself!
Can Chickens Eat Arugula Raw?
Yes, chickens can eat the entire leafy part of the vegetable with no problems. The stem itself is not harmful to chickens, but the vast majority of chickens will turn their nose up at it because it is tough, fibrous, and not very tasty.
Can Chickens Eat Arugula Cooked?
Yes, chickens can also eat arugula when it has been cooked although we would advise against it.
Arugula is a surprisingly delicate plant, and cooking it will significantly impact its astounding vitamin profile for the worse.
Your chickens are unlikely to care much either way, so you’re a better off giving it to them raw.
Never Feed Arugula to Chickens that Has Been Prepared with Harmful Ingredients
If you are planning on giving your chickens cooked arugula for whatever reason, or just feeding them some leftovers that you have on hand, you must never give them any that has been prepared with harmful ingredients.
Things like oils, salt, sugar, and other substances will negatively impact the health of your chickens and might lead to serious harm if they ingest too much.
It should only get gently cooked arugula with no other substances if you insist on feeding it to them cooked.
Beware of Pesticides on Grocery-bought Arugula
Arugula is an excellent and healthy supplement to your chicken’s diet that they are likely to enjoy, but if you are purchasing arugula from the grocery store for the purpose of feeding it to your chickens you must use caution.
Most consumer vegetables are treated from beginning to end with pesticides and other chemical preservatives in order to keep them intact until they make it to market.
Many of these chemicals are bad enough for people over time but can prove to be quite harmful to animals, including your chickens.
Make sure you thoroughly rinse or soak arugula to remove any lingering traces of these chemicals before serving it to them, or purchase an organic brand.
How Often Can Chickens Have Arugula?
As good as arugula is for chickens, you might think that you can feed it to them whenever you want or whenever they want it!
This is admirable, but misguided, and you should limit your chickens’ intake of arugula and all other produce.
Generally, only 10 to 20% of a chicken’s calorie intake should be in the form of fresh and wholesome supplemental foods.
This is to prevent nutrient imbalance or overconsumption of vitamins and minerals that might become harmful and have high enough concentrations.
Chickens should be subsisting primarily on a nutritionally complete chicken feed as their everyday meal.
Preparing Arugula for Your Flock
There isn’t much you’ll need to do to prepare arugula for your flock.
You can gather up a bunch, tie the stems together and hang it from the fence of their enclosure or from overhead to allow them to pick at it, or you can roughly chop up the leaves and place them in a bowl or on a tray to allow them to nibble at them freely.
Again, don’t expect your chickens to enjoy the stems of the arugula. They are not harmful in any way, and your chickens can eat them, but most seem to dislike the taste.
Can Baby Chicks Have Arugula, Too?
Yes, baby chicks can have arugula and it is quite good for them, especially compared to other leafy greens.
Arugula has the advantage of being particularly easy for chicks to digest when they might otherwise struggle with fibrous vegetables.
We’d recommend waiting until your chicks are at least 3 weeks old, perhaps a little older, before feeding them chopped arugula as an occasional treat.
Just like adult chickens, baby chicks should be subsisting primarily on a nutritionally complete, early-life chicken feed, not fresh produce, but it is okay to give them a little bit of variety periodically.
Tom has lived and worked on farms and homesteads from the Carolinas to Kentucky and beyond. He is passionate about helping people prepare for tough times by embracing lifestyles of self-sufficiency.